Will the coronavirus continue to mutate?


BISMARCK, ND (KFYR) – There were only three new cases of COVID a day in June. Since then, cases have grown exponentially, in large part because of the delta variant. The question is: can we expect more COVID mutations?

The nature of viruses is that they mutate.

“This is like a high-speed evolution, this is what this virus is currently preoccupying with people around the world in real time,” said Dr. Noe Mateo, Infectious Disease Specialist at Sanford Health.

SARS-COV-2, the virus that causes COVID, is an RNA virus that is particularly susceptible to mutations. Dr. Mateo explained to Your News Leader in layman terms why RNA viruses mutate more than DNA viruses.

“When a strand of DNA replicates or duplicates, there is a proofreading mechanism in which the two daughter strands are identical to the original strand. The deal with RNA viruses, however, is that there is no proofreading mechanism, ”Mateo said.

Since this mechanism of “proofreading” is missing in the case of RNA viruses, there are often errors in the replication system that introduce mutations.

Experts say the best way to circumvent mutations is to stay vigilant to avoid contracting the virus.

“I think we’re seeing more and more people, even in our state, more and more people are getting sick and it’s spreading a little faster than in the past. So the Delta variant is something to definitely worry about as long as we have people who are hospitalized and dying from the virus, ”said Brian Ament, pharmacy manager at Jamestown Regional Medical Center.

The bad news? As long as people continue to contract the virus, it will continue to mutate. The good news: the spread is preventable.

With low vaccination rates in North Dakota and around the world, Dr. Mateo that the virus continues to replicate and mutate frequently. He says the more people are vaccinated, the fewer people will be infected and the fewer opportunities the virus will ultimately have to mutate.

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